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  • Alumni

ABILENE, Texas – For their many years of service to McMurry University and the United Methodist Church, Karen’61 and Gene ’60 Young, from Albuquerque, NM, have been named the 2011 recipients of the McMurry University Cross and Flame Award for the New Mexico Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The couple was honored during the Sunday morning service at First Central United Methodist Church on Sept 4.

Gene graduated in the class of 1960 with a BS in music, and Karen graduated in 1961 with a BBA. Gene’s father, Dr. B. E. Young, was in one of the earliest graduating classes in 1929. Gene and Karen’s daughter, Gena Young Wilimitis, graduated in 1990 and worked in the advancement office after graduation.

Gene was the band director for five years in Plains, Texas. In 1961, he became the first choir director at the new sanctuary at Plains Methodist Church. Karen worked at the bank for a year in Plains while finishing her degree, and then taught school for two years. She then became a stay-at-home mom to Gena and Ginger. For the five years that the Youngs lived in Plains, they were instrumental in encouraging several students to attend McMurry College.

Gene entered the insurance industry in 1965 and Karen joined him after their girls started school. They have worked together since then. They lived in Lubbock, San Antonio, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Moriarty, NM and Albuquerque. At each location they have been involved in their United Methodist Church in many capacities. Gene has been a Sunday school teacher, substitute choir director and a member of numerous committees. Karen has been a treasurer of the United Methodist Women and a church office volunteer. Both were active in the Lubbock Area McMurry Alumni Association (Gene served as president), both have been active members of their church choirs, active members of Sunday school classes, MYF helpers, McMurry Ambassadors for Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, and as McMurry Ambassadors for the Albuquerque District.

They moved their membership to First United Methodist in Albuquerque in 1989. They are presently active in the Chancel Choir, Sunday school and many other committees and activities.

While at McMurry, Gene played the cornet in the band, Karen was a maidenette and flutist as well as Prof. Bynum’s secretary. Their commitment to McMurry’s band continued in Plains, where they were hosts to the band. In Albuquerque, they have helped the McMurry Band and Chanters secure locations to perform at various churches and high schools in the Albuquerque area.

At McMurry they were also active in KIVA, Gamma Sigma, Circle K, Wah WahTaysee and Sigma Tau Delta. The KIVA Exes Association was formed in 1989 at the 50th anniversary of KIVA. Gene is active in KEA and has served as president.

Karen and Gene were involved in Tipi Village while on campus. Gene’s interest and background in Indian lore has continued to keep them both active in McMurry’s homecoming traditions. Upon seeing a lack of quality and confusion about tipi judging rules, Gene and Karen created the McMurry Tipi Handbook in 1990. It became the official handbook of Tipi Village in 1994 with approval of McM Student Government. The handbook was most recently revised in 2005 and is in use today. Gene has been a judge at Tipi Village since that time. He has participated in workshops on campus for the last two years in an effort to stimulate continued interest in Indian culture.

Established in 2000 by the McMurry Alumni Association, this award is given to strengthen the relationship between McMurry University and the United Methodist Church by recognizing individuals for service to their churches and to the University.